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Sonya Cassidy on Liz’s journey through Lodge 49

Sonya Cassidy
Photo: Jackson Lee Davis (AMC)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Monday, September 16. All times are Eastern.


Top pick

Lodge 49 (AMC, 10:01 p.m.): Free idea for the Lodge 49 team: Get “When you’re lost, the thing to do is... get more lost” printed on T-shirts, because that’s a big part of this show in a nutshell.

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And is anyone more lost than Liz Dudley—excepting, perhaps, her twin brother?

We spoke with the terrific Sonya Cassidy about her experience playing Liz, her thoughts on the machinations of fate, and the L.A. flip-flop sound.

The A.V. Club: Do you personally believe in destiny?

Sonya Cassidy: As in, fate?

AVC: Yes.

SC: I myself, I don’t. I think there’s the bigger question of whether or not we as human beings truly have free will. But removing that from the equation, I know I take responsibility for my actions, and what happens in my life that I happen to have control over. As for those things that happen happily by chance, or unhappily, I’m of the opinion that this is just how the world, my world, my time in this universe, works. I’m not denying there are things that can happen that seem kind of uncanny. The timing of them can make it seem that there is some sort of destiny involved. But no, I would say I’m not a believer in fate.

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AVC: What about Liz? Does she believe in any kind of fate, or destiny, or some kind of cosmic pull?

SC: I would say a definite no to that. I think maybe she believes the opposite of that. She’s very practical. She thinks, “These are the cards I’ve been dealt in life, and if it’s shitty, so be it. Let’s get on with it. And if it’s good, then great, enjoy it while it’s there.”

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I think the idea of fate in the show is an interesting one, and perhaps our show has an element of that for our characters. But what’s nice is, I think you can choose to believe in that or not as a viewer. We are seeing things happen in Liz’s life in part because she’s having to dig kind of deep inside herself this season, to delve a little bit more into her past, her Dudley legacy, in order to figure out quite what her future holds. So with that in mind, there are things that happen that I think catch her off guard, and help her on that journey of discovering where she should be headed. Liz’s lack of belief in faith is tested a little, but Liz being Liz, she will continue to analyze it and question it and deny it until [she’s], you know, thrown in the towel.

AVC: What role does pain, either physical or emotional, play in Liz’s life?

SC: There’s pain of her dad dying very suddenly and the grief that has come from that. And she’s been reeling from the realization that she had all that debt. All that was in my head when I was writing her backstory. I felt that the pain of that was immediate and all-consuming, but as a kind of coping mechanism, and to protect Dud and herself, she very quickly went into [in a brisk, toneless voice]: “Okay. Get a job. Pay off the debt. This is your life now. Get on with it.” So she’s not one to wallow. If she’s feeling something, I think she is someone who either doesn’t deal with it, very quickly puts it in a box, and packs it away, or if she is dealing with it, it’s a very private thing for her.

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This year, it’s a question of what’s going to be satisfying to see? That pain, which has doubled in a sense, sort of laying like a sediment in her subconscious, has been whipped up. She no longer has her debt. Dud, he’s got his hospital bills, but he’s alive and as happy as ever, and going down his own avenue with the Lodge and trying to save the Lodge. So we’re seeing Liz actually have time to herself, and that’s both exciting and unnerving for her. She’s no longer distracted by her debt. It was a tremendous burden, but it had been a very useful excuse to not look at her life and look back on things that have happened in terms of her relationship with her dad and her relationship with her mom. That is a really interesting avenue that we’re exploring this year. But to give you a short answer: I think she’s a very rip-the-plaster-off person. If it’s going to cause her any more pain, she would deal with it very privately.

AVC: Very nerdy actor question: Liz moves differently than anyone else on the show. How did you find that in her?

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SC: I’m a very physical actor. At drama school, you do a lot of physical work. It’s half of the character—the mind and the body. Liz is someone who is mentally and physically very strong, but I don’t think she has particularly a good core. I don’t think she’s really exercised in a long time. She doesn’t eat well. She doesn’t look after herself. I think what we see with her physically, and also what Carol, our brilliant costume designer, has done, is painted Liz as someone who, although she has strength and a certain type of confidence, she for the last year has not really wanted to be seen. She’s kind of minimized herself. Her life has been getting up, putting on makeup, going to work, wearing an outfit. And then when she’s not there, it’s very much about covering her body, slouching on the sofa, just not really taking care of herself. So delving into that kind of crushed core—which is quite a nice symbol as well for essentially the last year of her life and how trodden down she’s been—felt like the right way to go for her.

AVC: So she’s got strength, but it’s collapsed?

SC: Yes. And she drags her feet a lot. When Wyatt [Russell] and I would walk to set together, you could hear us coming. We have that very L.A. flip-flop sound, but Dudley’s walk has a bit more bounce in it. Liz is quite heavy in the foot. She has been dragging her feet through life a bit over the last year or so. And what’s interesting about season two is that we are seeing her try to pick them up a little more. See what that feels like, and see where her feet take her.

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Regular coverage

The Terror: Infamy (AMC, 9 p.m.)
The Deuce (HBO, 9 p.m.)

Wild card

So You Think You Can Dance (FOX, 7:10 p.m., 16th-season finale): Not even the presence of former Bachelorette Hannah B. and the immortal James Van Der Beek can lure us to this season of Dancing With The Stars, so let’s spend some time with the fine people of SYTYCD.

They’re all our favorite dancers. We cannot pick just one.

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